Alex Fernandes is a photographer with professional experience in the advertising industry in Mumbai and West Asia. In 2001, he returned to his home, Goa, to become its best-known portrait artist. His signature retro black-and-white images grace the walls of many fine Goan homes. Many of Goa’s well-known personalities, tiatristes, musicians and contemporary artists have had their portraits made by Alex. Alex has exhibited his works in a number of solo and group shows in Goa and Delhi.
In October 2005, I photographed some of the pioneering personalities from Tiatr in Goa and Bombay dressed in the stage garb of the characters that they best portrayed on stage. As I was shooting the portraits, I realized that I was getting images that looked very similar to Mario de Miranda’s Goan caricatures, right down to almost identical costumes. Somehow even with an exaggerated stage costume, the Tiatriste was transformed into easily identifiable archetypal image before the camera.
Somewhere in the Goan psyche there are archetypal figures that remind us of who we were as a race, a culture and this is from where we draw to express our fantasy. We even recognize fictional characters as entities for which we might predict behavior and sympathize. Ironically, archetypes are not learned. They are inborn tendencies to experience the world. Strictly speaking, archetypal figures such as the Bhatkar (Landlord), the Sasumai (Mother-in-law), the Neustakan (Fisherwoman) etc are not archetypes, but archetypal images which have crystallized out of the archetypes. The images are objective, but universal.For the ‘Goan Archetype’ series (2016), Tiatristes Sylvester Vaz and Irene Cardozo E Vaz play multiple archetypal characters in front of the camera, most of who are from the Tiatr stage.